Oct. 19, 2011
COLUMBIA, S.C. – South Carolina (10-10, 1-9 SEC) tried to fight back in the third set against No. 13 Florida (16-3, 9-1 SEC), but the Gators held on to take a 25-13, 25-18, 25-23 win in front of 945 fans at the Volleyball Competition Facility on Wednesday night.
Sophomore outside hitter Juliette ThÃƒÂ©venin led the Gamecocks with 10 kills, while redshirt freshman outside hitter Cara Howley matched her in points with eight kills and two aces. Freshman outside hitter Bethanie Thomas posted 11 digs to pace the Gamecocks defensively.
Kristy Jaeckel and Betsy Smith recorded 10 kills each for the Gators, with Smith only missing on one swing, hitting .909. Jaeckel also posted seven aces for Florida. Madison Monserez had 11 digs, while Taylor Unroe added 10. Kelly Murphy added eight kills,
The Gators took the first set, 25-13, hitting .714 in the frame. Not making an attacking error, Florida posted two four-point run and a five-point skein in the set. Jaeckel and Smith both had four kills in the set, Smith going 4-for-4 on her swings. Howley did her part to keep South Carolina in it, posting four points on three kills and an ace.
South Carolina played a better second set, posting 15 digs, but Florida captured the frame, 25-18. Two three-point Gator runs made it 9-5, and a third, all coming on kills from Tangerine Wiggs, made it 15-8. The Gamecocks posted a three-point string punctuated by Howley’s second ace of the night, but the Gators finished off the set on a Gamecock service error. Howley matched her first-set performance with four more points, while Murphy led the Gators with four kills without an error.
Florida survived a late South Carolina surge to claim the final set, 25-23. The Gators held a 7-3 lead after three-consecutive aces from Jaeckel, but the Gamecocks took five of the next seven points, including a kill from Thomas and two from ThÃƒÂ©venin, to draw within one at 9-8. Florida stretched the lead out to 17-13, but the Gamecocks responded with a 7-1 stand to take a 20-18 lead, only its fourth of the match. Florida posted a three-point run to go back on top, but South Carolina bounced back with kills from senior middle blocker Teresa Stenlund and Howley to hold the lead, 22-21. But Florida ended the match with a three-point run, capped by Jaeckel’s final ace, to win the third, 25-23. The Gamecocks outhit the Gators in the final set, .268 to .195, but four Florida aces were the difference. ThÃƒÂ©venin had seven of her kills in the final frame.
The Gators won all stat categories, including 8-3 in aces and 5.0-1.0 in blocks. The match is the Gamecocks’ third-consecutive loss on ESPNU, all coming against Florida.
The crowd of 945 fans marked the third time crowds over 900 had attended a Gamecock volleyball match this fall. A majority of the fans wore pink in support of the Dig Pink effort, raising awareness for breast cancer research.
South Carolina hosts Mississippi State on Friday night at 7 p.m. at the Volleyball Competition Facility.